In the intricate balance of bodily functions, metabolic health plays a pivotal role in disease prevention – we’re talking about cancer, heart disease and even obesity here. But how can you protect yourself? That’s what we’re here to unpack.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that, when occurring together, significantly increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Recognising the early warning signs of metabolic syndrome is crucial for taking proactive steps toward a healthier lifestyle. Let's delve into three key indicators that may signal the presence of metabolic syndrome.
One of the visible signs of metabolic syndrome is an expanding waistline, particularly excess abdominal fat. Central obesity, characterised by carrying extra weight around the waist, is a key component of metabolic syndrome. To assess whether your waist circumference is within a healthy range, use a tape measure and wrap it around your waist at the level of your belly button. For men, a waist circumference of more than 1022cm and for women, more than 88cm, may indicate increased abdominal fat.
Why It Matters: Excess abdominal fat is associated with insulin resistance, a hallmark of metabolic syndrome. Insulin resistance impairs the body's ability to regulate blood sugar, leading to elevated insulin levels and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Action Steps: Focus on a balanced diet with emphasis on whole foods, fibre-rich fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. Incorporate regular physical activity, including both aerobic exercise and strength training, to support weight management.
Elevated Blood Pressure
Another early warning sign of metabolic syndrome is elevated blood pressure, or hypertension. Blood pressure readings consistently at or above 130/85 mm Hg may indicate the presence of metabolic syndrome. Regular monitoring of blood pressure is essential for early detection.
Why It Matters: High blood pressure contributes to cardiovascular diseases and is a key factor in metabolic syndrome. The interplay between insulin resistance and hypertension further increases the risk of heart-related complications.
Action Steps: Adopt a heart-healthy diet that includes potassium-rich foods, such as bananas and leafy greens. Limit sodium intake, excess sugar and processed foods, which can contribute to elevated blood pressure. Engage in regular aerobic exercise to help manage blood pressure.
Unfavourable Lipid Profile
A lipid profile that includes high triglyceride levels, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol), and elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol may indicate metabolic syndrome.
Why It Matters: Dyslipidemia, or an abnormal lipid profile, is a significant risk factor for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases. It is often seen in individuals with metabolic syndrome.
Action Steps: Consume heart-healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts, and olive oil. Increase omega-3 fatty acids through sources like fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts. Regularly monitor cholesterol levels and work with healthcare professionals to manage lipid profiles.
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